I was in Oregon Tavern country but I wasn’t in Oregon.
Word had reached me about a legendary dive bar located along a lonely road that ran through a forlorn locale that had seen much better days, days where one log rode on a log truck and salmon ruled the watersheds, real salmon, not the fake hatchery ones.
I had hazy directions but I found the joint. It looked like it belonged in a Hitchcock movie. I walked in. I beheld. Slate flooring. Life-size sculpture of Elvis. Pool table. Shuffleboard. Saw blade art. Ancient flintlocks and farm implements. Wooden spear guns and fish clubs. A Pam Anderson Barb Wire pinball machine! It turned me on. I ordered a beer and sat next to Pam.
Three people sat at the bar and sipped beers and vodkas. The television played a show where an asshole boat captain debases his dumbshit crew. Five sets of car keys rested near the pickled grotesqueries. It was a wild night last night. A couple phone calls came in asking if certain keys were there. They were.
The bartender placed a call to a diner across the street: biscuits and gravy with four pieces of bacon. Then he gave the woman at the bar $2 to go pick it up.
Conversation moved away from wicked weather to how to catch and cook surf perch. For several years I have dreamed of becoming a surf perch fisherman. While listening to the conversation, I vowed to become one.
The afternoon drifted away. Every once and a while I heard Pam groan and giggle behind me. I watched the bartender eat his biscuits and gravy and bacon. I got the history of the joint. The slate floors made sense. So did the kooky mural of the joint’s history that was painted on the wall behind the bar. The bartender said a previous owner was going to paint over it and the regulars revolted and he backed down, probably at the point of a flintlock.
I sipped my ale and took a few notes. I’d be back, and maybe with surf perch story of my own.
The joint’s name? It’s a secret, for now. Mystery over journalism is ruling my editorial mind these days.